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Guest Column: Budget Protects Middle Class, Future Generations

Gov. Scott Walker shares about the effects that the 2011-13 budget will have on our state and our communities.

Editor's Note: This opinion column was written by Gov. Scott Walker.

The Kaukauna School District recently announced that our reforms will allow them to add more teachers, reduce class sizes and set funds aside to reward excellent teachers next school year.  This is a prime example of how our budget and budget reforms protect middle class jobs and property taxpayers – as well as future generations. 

The 2011-2013 state budget I recently signed transformed a $3.6 billion deficit into a surplus, it caps property taxes and it provides support for basic safety net programs to protect seniors and needy families.  It does what we said we would do to get this state working again.  

The balanced budget is built on our reforms that give schools and local governments the tools to balance their own budgets and protect jobs – without hurting taxpayers. 

Recently a 60-year-old custodian wrote to me about his property taxes. He noted they went up $500 last year. When he retires he said, “My property tax bill will be my highest expense next to health insurance. I will have to find a part-time job just to live normally.”

Under our budget, the average property taxpayer will save $700.  It is my hope that savings like this will help keep more people like that custodian safely in their homes.

Our balanced budget also provides a safety net.  Over the next two years, nearly all new revenue that the state receives will go to programs that care for needy families and children – as well as our seniors. 

As the father of two kids in a public high school, seeing our schools do well is important to me.  Spending for our public schools continues to be the largest part of the budget at the same time that our reforms allow schools to put more of their resources into the classroom. 

Our budget also allows us to look to the future.  It is the first truly balanced budget in more than a decade.  The national bond rating agencies call it “credit positive” because we make the structural changes needed to ensure stability for the future. 

This fiscal stability will do more than balance the budget; it will help us improve the economy.

Already, we have seen signs of recovery.  That’s vital to middle class families.  Recently, a woman named Tina emailed me about her family of four (soon to be five).  Her husband lost his job last year and she said that she’s hoping that our efforts to boost the economy will continue to grow jobs in this state. 

Through May, Wisconsin has added more than 26,000 private sector jobs (13,000 in manufacturing).  Our national ranking on good places to do business rose from 41 to 24.  And a ranking of job creators in the state showed that 88 percent of them think we are going in the right direction this year (versus 10 percent in 2010). 

Still, we can not rest until the economic recovery goes from Wall Street to Main Street and – most importantly – to every street in Wisconsin.  That is why our budget includes incentives to create more manufacturing and agricultural jobs, in addition to increasing investments in Wisconsin-based companies that employee our residents. 

We have to succeed so that families like Tina’s can get back to work.  And working together, we will. 

Our budget chooses to fix our problems now, so that our children and our grandchildren don't face the same challenges we face today. I want them to grow up in a Wisconsin even better than the Wisconsin I grew up in - that's what this budget sets out to do. 

Duane Michalski July 14, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Really lyle, how am i any different then anyone else? I made my choices, I will live with them. I would never expect a handout because of a poor decision I made. I w2as laid off and had a terrible time even calling unemployment. So I didn't...i went out and got a job...it didn't pay the bills so i got a second job at a fast food joint, just to pay the bills. We all have to make choices, it is just what you choose that is the difference.
Lyle Ruble July 14, 2011 at 01:06 AM
@Duane Michalski...Everyone makes choices and responsible people stand up and face the consequences of those choices. I don't know the circumstances of your job loss and if you decided not to apply for unemployment compensation that is your choice even if I view it as a little foolish. I know what it means to have to work multiple jobs myself; I have worked three at one time in order to make ends meet. What is important is that we do have a social safety net and I don't resent anyone that has to use and I will continue to pay my taxes to support it. In fact I see paying taxes as my patriotic duty and my dues for living in this nation.
Mark S July 14, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Lyle do us all a favor and just just shut the hell up. Your a phony. Stop trying to convince us otherwise, your social justice line is a pile of crap. Move on, I think you can do better than this.....
Denise Lockwood July 14, 2011 at 06:07 AM
Takin' off the editor hat --- Duane, Duane, Duane..... you entertain me and yet you are the perpetual burr under the old saddle aren't you. I don't know about you, but I depend on people all of the time -- the people that pave the roads, plow my driveway, teach my lovely and yet equally as intelligent and challenging daughter, those who make sure my water is safe to drink, and the cops that got the little pip squeek who sold drugs off my street. I also depended on teachers to educate people enough to know how to read and have enough fire engines to come to Mr. Denise's rescue when the lawn mower started on fire (with him on it). And I know what you mean about being unemployed because I too hated the sound of that ^&$%# automated recording at the unemployment office. But, I was also humbled and grateful to have had the temporary assistance I needed in making sure Denise Jr. was fed at school and had health insurance while I went back to grad school to make my skills more relevant in a profession that I love. While in school I reminded myself that I needed to be a good role model for Denise Jr. and also to become a taxpayer again. Why? Because half of my tuition was paid for by the government... and that was (in my mind) the quickest way I knew to repay that debt.
Lyle Ruble July 14, 2011 at 10:53 AM
@Mark S...I wondered when you'd pop up. What got you so stirred up? So if you don't believe in social justice, what do you believe in?

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